Natural wonders leave UNWTO spellbound

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By Margaret Mvura

THE United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly, which was held last month was a huge success in many ways mostly in that it gave many an opportunity to learn more about the wonders Zimbabwe has to offer.
The wonders include the Hwange National Park, the country’s largest wildlife habitat and the Rainforest in Victoria Falls.
The two-hour game drive showed the immensity of the Hwange National Park, in a day one cannot exhaust the beauty and total land area said to be about 14 650 square kilometres.
The gigantic park, located some 200 kilometres south-west of Victoria Falls, along the Victoria Falls-Bulawayo road, was established in 1929.
There are a variety of animals in the park which has more than 115 mammal and 400 bird species making it the second biggest, in terms of bird and mammal population, after Chobe in Botswana.
For easier exploration, the park is divided into three blocks, the Main Camp, Sinamatela, and Robins Camp.
According to the area manager of the Main Camp, Trumber Jura, man-made sources of water, to support the massive wildlife have been created to supplement the natural ones.
“We have 42 water sources in the Main Camp, 54 in total. We spend at least 500 litres of diesel per month for every borehole,” Jura said.
“We have a high concentration of elephants at the moment and we have exceeded the carrying capacity. This in turn affects smaller species as there is increased competition for food and water.
“Culling is not an option at the moment while translocation is expensive,” he said.
Jura added that poaching had become one of the major challenges facing the park.
And the other wonder, the Rainforest is a magnificent spectacle.
Established in 1972 the Rainforest, located close to the Victoria Falls border with Zambia, covers 24,3 square kilometres.
While the area is said to have been ‘discovered’ by David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, it is not mentioned that the mighty falls were part of the natural surroundings for the indigenes who had several names for it.
The southern Tonga people called the falls Shungu na Mutitima while the Ndebeles named it aManz’ aThunqayo, and the Batswana referred to it as Mosi-oa-Tunya.
Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls.
In height and width Victoria Falls is rivalled only by Brazil’s Iguazu Falls.
The main streams are named, from Zimbabwe (west) to Zambia (east), Devil’s Cataract,also known as Leaping Water, Main Falls, Rainbow Falls (the highest) and the Eastern Cataract.
The Zambezi River has a rain season from late November to early April and a dry season the rest of the year.
The river’s annual flood season is February to May with a peak in April when the spray from the falls typically rises to a height of over 400 metres and sometimes even twice as high and is visible from up to 48 km away.
According to the park’s regional manager Arthur Musakwa, the park is popular with visitors.
“What is unique about this park is that it has the third largest curtain of falling waters after Niagara and the most spectacular. It is also a World Heritage Site and regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. People therefore come here to see the falls, monkeys, baboons, bush buck and a variety of birds’ species,” said Musakwa.
“Our major costs are in maintenance and conservation with activities ranging from wiring, patrolling and guide costs, anti-poaching exercises, signage and foot and road pa
th maintenance”.
Tourists that visit the Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls are mostly from Europe, Asia and the United Kingdom.

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